Red Herring

Designs on Studying the Baltic Experience

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    Finland East Excursion - Day 1

    By Bronwyn Charlton
    Apr 22, '12 4:22 PM EST

    This Friday, on a cold, very rainy morning, we squeezed into a 9 person van and headed North and East for a two day whirlwind tour of Eastern Finnish architecture. Our first stop was Lahti, where we looked at the Church of the Cross. Designed by Alvar Aalto, he died before it could be completed, and it was finished by his second wife, Elissa Aalto in 1978. It let in a stunning amount of light given the cloudy day, and an organist was practicing when we arrived which gave the space a pretty transcendental air (see video at end).



    Next we visited Sibelius Hall by Hannu Tikka and Kimmo Lintula. The glue lam beams had impressive dimensions as well as the range of joinery and hidden steel connectors. This building was one of the first (or the first?) wood-frame construction/framing at a large scale.The structure's relationship with the older brick construction building was interestingly unabashed. While the colors and texture of the wood were beautiful, its use in an almost industrial fashion was visually chaotic.

    The walls of the hall are filled with sand for better acoustics, and kilometers worth of fabric hangs around the perimeter, and can be adjusted per the needs of a performance. 

    These are under-seat vents that connect to underground tunnels. They bring moisture and constant temperature into the room, which is important for the wood of the stringed instruments.


    Third, we visited the Säynätsalo town hall, designed by Alvar Aalto, 1951. Smaller than it appeared in images, it was filled with beautiful details and the combination of red brick and wood made the place feel very warm and inviting. Gray-green overgrowth and a tangle of vines contrasted with the dramatic angles of the building on the almost looked like a space ship that had landed (in a not unpleasing way).


    A beautiful display case:

    The infamously despised back stairs that Aalto "hid" in photos using a cleverly placed branch. Clever analog photoshop!



    Alvar Aalto's Church of the Cross to organ music, Lahti Finland

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About this Blog

We are two MArch students from Washington University St Louis who are traveling for a semester abroad to Helsinki, the arctic circle, and Baltic region. Helsinki is currently the 2012 design capital and we are getting to participate in extensive design related seminars and events that we wish to blog about. We are interested in using this blog to share/explore ideas and experiences about design, art, architecture and culture as we experience it.

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  • bjd80
  • Bronwyn Charlton

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